Where do I go to get my food? How often do I grocery shop? How much does food cost?
There are as many ways to answer these questions as there are people asking them. All I can tell you is my experiences and my way may not fit with yours at all.
Once a real estate agent told me that the most important thing to his clients is how far the house is from Super Lake. I thought that was odd. I have been living here for almost three years and I haven’t been in that grocery store three times. I buy a few things in the El Torito grocery store because it is close to my casita. What do I buy there? I buy dishwashing soap, bacon, eggs, sometimes a can of coke or a beer. Oh yes, I never want to forget the toilet paper.
In one of the local English language papers there is a weekly list of grocery store prices. I rarely read any of the newspapers so I can’t tell you which one publishes these comparison prices but if I see it again I will post the name on this site for you. They compare Sorianas to Super Lake, El Torito and Walmart. I checked it out a few times and was surprised to see that there isn’t much difference in these stores. One week sugar will be less expensive in Walmart and the next it will be cheaper at El Torito. If you don’t have a car or if spending your money on gas is a concern, then I would say to skip comparison-shopping and buy at the closest place.
One problem I have had with the local Walmart store and I have had this same problem every time I have shopped there. The price they ring up doesn’t always match the price below the object when I picked it up off the shelf. And it never rings up cheaper at the check out stand. It is always more expensive. So I watch them very closely and if the price is higher than I remembered, I make someone go back and check it out or I go back myself. Usually the problem is that the price directly under that article doesn’t match. They will show me a different thing, much further away from the lower price tag.
Here is an example. I wanted some sweet rice vinegar. The price below it was twenty pesos. That seemed reasonable but when it went through the check out it was 90 pesos. Big difference and I didn’t feel like paying almost eight dollars for a small bottle of vinegar. I went back with one of the employees. He showed me a different row of twenty-peso vinegar but it was nowhere near the twenty-peso price tag. The imported vinegar was above that tag. If money is of no concern to you, then ignore this warning.
If you feel that you have to have American brand name products, they will be extremely expensive. Things that you could get in the States for less than a dollar can be ten dollars here. My friend had a hankering for some Klamato Olives. She paid eight dollars for a small jar of them at Super Lake.
For the reason I just mentioned, I rarely go to Walmart to shop. Also, I don’t have a car. My closest grocery store is El Torito. I go in there no more than once a week. I do almost all my grocery shopping at the Ajijic Wednesday market, the Tianguis. This market is largest on Mondays in Chapala. It comes to Ajijic on Wednesdays and on Thursdays it moves to Jocotopec. I think it is in San Antonio on Tuesdays but I am not sure and if so, it is much smaller there.
When I first came here, I thought that the local farmers were selling their own, home grown food. Since that time, I have been told that many of those fruits and vegetables were bought in a large clearinghouse in Guadalajara. It doesn’t matter much to me where they come from, only that they are fresh. The fruit and vegetable prices are much lower at the outdoor markets than they are in the grocery stores and they seem fresher. So, once a week I make several trips to the market. Lucky for me, it is only a few blocks from my casita. I take a grocery cart on wheels to help me carry stuff home.
I always soak my fruits and vegetables in a purifying solution before I eat them. I buy chicken from a man at the Tianguis and I buy fresh pork from a woman there. I always buy my chicken, fish and meat in the early morning. It gets hot here in the afternoons and things aren’t refrigerated. Some people would never shop like I do. I have a friend here who would be appalled at that. She has a thing about flies and flies get on food that is sitting out in the open.
I always wash and soak my food. Sometimes I still get sick. I just accept that as a fact of life and keep a lot of Pepto-Bismol tablets on hand.
I have included some photos of the interesting fruits and vegetables that are for sale at the Wednesday market. I have tried a few of them.
I have an avocado tree, a papaya tree, two lemon trees and a guava tree in my backyard. So I don’t need to buy those things. I used to get greedy and fill my refrigerator up every week with fresh fruits and veggies and by the next market day I would have to throw half of it away. Everything is so inexpensive here that I got carried away.
Most of the time I end up eating out. I have no kitchen in my casita, just a microwave, a refrigerator and a two-burner hot plate. That works for me. I wash my dishes in my bathroom sink. Sometimes it is inconvenient but the price is right and Chico lives here. Chico is my landlord’s dog. Chico hangs out with me all the time. Unless I am willing to dognap him I will continue living here and deal with no kitchen. I could never take my landlord’s dog away from him. So I continue living here.
I am coming back to the original question. How much are groceries in Ajijic, Mexico? It depends on where you shop and what you buy. If you want to shop for imported products, you could easily spend fifty dollars for a small bag of groceries. If you shop like me and mostly buy at the outdoor markets, you can get three or four bags of groceries for less than twenty dollars. The choice is up to you.